I’m a big fan of parades and balloons. Celebration is when my Homeostasis is finally right. Victory! Success! Payoff for all the hard work! This is not that.
First the wardrobe backfired. I’m a peacock by nature so the dark suit and repp tie made me about as uncomfortable as my seatmate, a large conservative nightmare of a woman who needed to fill the flight from SF to Pennsylvania with various stories all centered around herself and how DT was gonna save us all.
“And do you know what he’s going to do about all those black people shooting each other in Detroit? Well, he’s just going to tell them, you either find a job or you won’t be a part of the New America. Things are changing…”
Luckily I’m a Sociologist (BA in Sociology, UCSB class of 1987, go Gauchos!) and I find these interactions fascinating. Course I want to beat my seatmate until she can no longer speak but that is giving in to hate which is at the center of all things that I’m fighting against.
Scott, my best friend from high school who I haven’t seen for 21 years cause he moved to Pennsylvania to work for Boeing, picks me up at the airport. He’s aged well, no belly, short hair, goatee, and clean cut but still got it. Bracelets, big watch, untucked button down, jeans. You know the type; two parts David Duchovney, one part poindexter.
“What the f*ck Chuck!” we hug with our traditional greeting. “Long time my brother, 20 years and you haven’t aged a bit.” I reply suddenly insanely happy to see him. We leave the airport through a pool of protesters. It’s the night before the inauguration, the forces are out already. The chant is “Not my president” it’s 17 degrees in Philadelphia, Scott’s wife is waiting in the Tesla, things are tense on the street but not with Scott. We’re together again, the band is reconnecting, and it’s comfortable and familiar and a part of me that I missed.
Favorite Scott memory: The night we became blood brothers in Santa Barbara, the only knife we had was a Bic disposable razor and we made a hell of a mess trying to cut the pads of out thumbs (the drugs convinced us that that is the way you become blood brothers-cutting both thumbs then shaking hands vigorously, I think one of us saw it in a movie. This is what we did in college when drugs were plentiful and cell phones didn’t exist).
Somehow we accomplished the deed, survived, and he drove his motorcycle off to Embry Riddle in Arizona the next morning. That was it, the last memory of a certain brand of craziness that ended forever that night. College, marriage, kids, life, 21 years goes fast.
Scott voted for Trump. It’s about the economy for him. Boeing is funded by the US military so a strong military means more electric guitars for Scott’s collection. Simple. He also likes the “Drain the swamp” philosophy (as do I) and he really dislikes Hillary Clinton (Snarky, political insider, dishonest). I decide against debating the issue, as I have for the last year, we are here to celebrate the new. Move on America, the rollercoaster is about to drop and there’s no getting out.
I liked Trump when there was no chance of him actually becoming president. Having him and Bernie in the race added an element of surprise and change that was refreshing.
Then Bernie fizzled, Donald surged and you know the rest. Now I accept Trump, the way one accepts a herpes outbreak, you can rage and yell and worry but really the only answer is to just lay low and wait for the outbreak to go away.
Friday morning we drive the 90 minutes to Washington catching up on life. Similarities: happy, two kids, still skiing, still playing tennis, and differences: liberal vs. conservative, socialist vs. capitalist, colorblind vs. just a little bit racist. We find a medium ground and before long we’re in the mayhem of the inauguration. Like I said, I love parades but I can see and hear just as many protesters as supporters and those Bikers for Trump do not look happy about any of it.
One normally needs a ticket to get into the inauguration (even Trump’s inauguration) but I was able to convince my editors in Sonoma that I would get to the real story and do it on the cheap if they could somehow secure press credentials. They made a phone call and now Scott and are being patted down by a large security officer who looks incapable of smiling.
The press area is sparse but I can see I have the same credential as Anderson Cooper who is completely ignoring his surroundings, laughing and answering questions from other reporters. Scott and I move to a spot to the left of stage, 30 feet from the podium and 10 feet below where Trump will be speaking. It’s 11:25, timing couldn’t be better.
I expect fireworks but Trump has decided to play nice. He talks about protecting the environment, caring for all people, about wanting to be remembered as the “Empathy President”…
I awake from my daydream as Trump is ending his acceptance speech. He’s outlined his new healthcare plan, committed to defeating ISIS and strengthening our military, thanked his supporters, talked about his family, joked about twitter and running into Obama during the move into the White Hose. He ends by pulling out a white baseball cap and dramatically promising to make America great again. Scott cheers, I smile politely. Cue the balloons and we’re off to stalk Anderson Cooper and score some free inaugural swag.
Scott drives me to the airport to catch a late afternoon flight back to my wonderful liberal bubble in California. The protesters are gone, the sun is shining and I can’t get home fast enough.
I will march for women’s rights on Saturday, speak up whenever I can, and wait patiently, knowing that this is democracy and in time, even the worst herpes outbreak goes away.